Elia's podium on Tuesday netted him four bonus seconds, which could prove quintessential in the fight for the overall classification.
Quick-Step Floors controlled the opening stage of the Dubai Tour from kilometer zero, sending powerhouse Tim Declercq to the front of the peloton to keep the five-man breakaway that took off as soon as the flag dropped on a leash and ensure their advantage wouldn't become at any point a danger for the much awaited bunch sprint in Palm Jumeirah, where Elia Viviani scored two victories at the past editions.
All that the leaders up front managed was to extend their maximum gap to over three minutes, but an injection of pace in the bunch, combined with several skirmishes between the escapees, brought the buffer down to a minute going into the final 20 kilometers. That was the cue for Andrew Fenn (Aqua Blue Sport) to attack from the breakaway and remain up the road until the 10 kilometer-to-go mark, when he was swept by the Quick-Step Floors-led pack.
Elia Viviani benefitted from a strong lead-out in the closing part of the stage, that escorted him through the tunnel and the technical kilometers leading to the windblown run-in, where the 28-year old opened his sprint on the right side of the; despite his strong speed, Viviani couldn't come past Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), as he was caught between the Dutchman and the barriers, and had to be content with third place at the finish.
"The guys did a great job, were really strong and showed that by taking the front with three kilometers remaining and marshalling the peloton. We tried to stay on the right to be protected by the crosswinds, we followed our plan and I had good legs, but it wasn't to be today", said Elia Viviani, who tomorrow will turn 29. "Looking in hindsight, I could have gone on the left side, but it's the kind of decision you take in a second. I am disappointed that I couldn't repay the team with a victory, but we will try again tomorrow."
Photo credit: ©Sigfrid Eggers